aṅgavidyā

(‘science of the limbs’)

From the ancient times, the throbbing of the limbs, particularly of the arm and the eye, has been regarded as the harbinger of coming events, auspicious or otherwise. For men, throbbing of the right side of the body is considered an auspicious sign. For women, the opposite holds good.

Some examples of such prognosti-cations can be given: The fruit indicated by the throbbing of the top of the head is the acquisition of land; of the forehead, the prosperity of the position already occupied; of the region of the eye, death; of the upper arm, union with friends; of the hand, acquisition of wealth; of the back, defeat and so on.

The Matsyapurāṇa (ch. 241) advises the placating of brāhmaṇas with gifts of gold to ward off the evil effects of such throbbing.

It is interesting to note that the well-known astrological work Bṛhatsaṁhitā of Varāhamihira (6th cent. A. D.) treats of this subject (in chapter 51) in an entirely different way. When an enquirer wishes to know from the astrologer any information (for instance, about the thief who has stolen his articles), the astrologer has to closely observe the way the enquirer puts the questions touching any of his aṅgas or limbs in the process in a natural way, and prognosticate the results. For instance, if the enquirer touches his own feet in the process, the astrologer can conclude that the servant is the thief. Of course, time and place of questioning also count.